Sunday brunch in Santa Barbara

Lots of people go out for brunch in Santa Barbara. In fact, based on the wait we had to get a table once we got there, I would say that it is a quite popular event. But I’m pretty sure that we were the only folks who did so starting in Philadelphia.

A while back a pretty good fare came up for flights between Philadelphia and Santa Barbara so I bought one. I was going to be in Philly anyways so the positioning costs were basically nil and I was up for a bit of sun and warmth. Why not?


The trip started entirely too early, with a 6am-ish flight from Philadelphia to Dulles. The only redeeming quality of the early morning departure was the opportunity to watch the sun rise. I love the visuals but hate the alarm clock required to make it happen.

The connection in Dulles was fine, other than a relatively last minute gate change and my forgetting one of my bags in the lounge. Fortunately I got it back and we made it to the plane in plenty of time.


We had one of the international config 772s, meaning the complimentary upgrade was in to the international business class seats. Sadly, it was the old seats still, but having that for nap time was way better than a domestic seat. Breakfast was nothing to write home about and there was no cereal option. Not horribly offensive, and that’s about all I look for on a domestic meal these days.


We pushed back from the gate a bit late due to some power issues and that had us in to San Francisco a bit late, too. Somehow, the travel gods were smiling on us, however, and the flight down to Santa Barbara that was one earlier than our original booking was also late. We raced to the gate and inquired about getting on the earlier flight. It was full, but they were still working out the last-minute load numbers. Weight and balance issues are often a challenge on the Embraer E-120s and they had previously bumped two passengers to a later flight to lighten the load on this relatively long small prop hop, but the somehow managed to load us on the plane at the last minute.


We chatted with the flight attendant (I was basically sitting in her lap thanks to being assigned 1C) and confused the heck out of her and the others within ear shot as we explained that we were just headed to the beach for a couple hours before catching the redeye back to the east coast. The strange looks were worth it, however, as we got guidance on how to walk from the airport to the beach (about 15 minutes) and from there where to find a great brunch. We followed the instructions and were rewarded with sun, sand and a couple celebratory beers while watching the locals bundle up in the "cold" mid-60s weather.


We could have stayed longer at the beach – our original departure gave us about 6 hours in Santa Barbara – but that would have meant no dinner at LAX or, possibly even worse, eating in the T6/7/8 complex. Fortunately for us there was an earlier flight that gave us plenty of time to get off-property and over to In-and-Out for a proper dinner. So we walked back to the airport, got on the standby list and enjoyed the brand new terminal for a few minutes before walking out to the plane and making the short jump into Los Angeles.


Dinner was good and we enjoyed watching the planes land. We even got a couple wide-bodies coming in which is always fun. And then it was back to the airport. We walked, Partly because we had the time, partly because no one ever walks to LAX and partly because there is actually a cute little flower garden that you go through (I’d seen it before a couple times) and the flight attendant on the SBA-LAX flight insisted that my buddy see it. From there it was in to the United Club where we stayed hydrated for the hour or two before the redeye home. No upgrade there, but the exit row window seat was comfortable enough and pretty soon we were touching down in Newark, almost exactly 24 hours after leaving Philadelphia.

Yeah, just another normal Sunday brunch in Santa Barbara.

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.